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St John Cadet of the Year Winner

Year 12's Annabel Lord won the St John District Cadet of the Year Competition.  Here, she tells us more.

The Competition

In November, I won the St John District Cadet of the Year competition for the South East district in the West Midlands region. The competition for District Cadet of the Year took place over a weekend, where we stayed overnight in Birmingham at the St John Regional Headquarters. There were 11 cadets in total from four different districts within the region.

Over the weekend, there were 7 assessed tasks, judged by two regional cadets of the year, as well as other judges from within and outside of St John.

When we arrived at the regional headquarters, we all took part in ‘icebreaker tasks’, for instance, a game where we were each asked to say 3 statements about ourselves, one of which was false, and guessed which was the incorrect statement. Then, we started the first assessed task. This was a teamwork task, where we were split into two groups, then asked to build a newspaper bridge connecting each group’s table in under 15 minutes. The bridge also had to be strong enough that a toy car could be successfully pushed from one side to the other. However, the resources (scissors, sticky tape etc) were unevenly distributed, therefore, we had to plan the task thoroughly before we could start building. Overall, the task was very successful, and we all worked well as a team, despite only knowing each other for a very short period of time. Everyone enjoyed this task, and we all felt that we had performed well.

The next task was a discussion task, where we were again split into two groups. We were asked to discuss two statements, one related to St John and the other completely unrelated. The first statement was ‘St John cadets and badgers should be split by gender.’ Our team had to argue for this statement, which many people found difficult. Coming from a single sex school, I found that there were many overlapping arguments. In addition to this, male and female cadets have been split by in the past (before badgers were introduced) and although this idea was scrapped, both examiners had been cadets at this time, further aiding our discussion. The second statement was ‘the ban on fox hunting should be overturned,’ which we had to argue against. Both teams had very strong arguments, and, although the debate got heated at times, we all enjoyed the discussion.

The third and final task for the day was the first aid assessment. This was our first individual assessment, which we all found difficult. The casualty had a head injury as a result of tripping over a wire. The first thing to consider in this situation is the possible dangers - in this case the wire, which I or someone else could have tripped over, therefore should be removed if possible, or moved out of the way. I then asked the patient’s friend to call an ambulance. The patient was responsive and talking, showing that the airway was clear, therefore I addressed the cut on her head. To do this, I first sat the patient up, to prevent more blood from flowing to her head, then applied a bandage. Next, shock should be considered and treated if possible. The standard approach to this is elevating the legs, however, with a head injury this is not the case, as it causes blood to rush to the head, which would make the bleeding worse. Therefore, the only possible option is to treat symptoms, for instance, giving the patient a blanket if they feel cold.

As this was the last assessment for the day, we then ate dinner, which was a pizza and potato wedges - a great choice! Then, we made our way to the hotel to unpack and settle in, before heading out to the German market. We all had a great time, despite sitting in costa for half an hour because of the cold weather.

The next morning, we left the hotel early so that we could be back at the regional headquarters in time for breakfast and the first assessment - the uniform assessment. The St John uniform consists of a green shirt, black combat trousers and black boots, however, there are other aspects that we were assessed on, for instance hair must be worn off the collar (in a bun) and shoes must be polished.

The second assessment of the day was a PR assessment, where we had a mock TV interview in pairs. In this assessment, we were asked questions about young people in St John and how St John are teaching first aid to first aid outside of the organisation. Here, we discussed the opportunities for cadets in St John, for instance volunteering at events, first aid training and leadership courses, as well as how St John promote first aid, such as the chokeables advert which aimed to teach people what to do if a small child is choking. The final question we were asked is about how we have used our first aid skills outside of St John. In response to this, I talked about an incident where my uncle injured himself while cutting the hedges, and I treated the injury before he went to hospital to have a tetanus vaccine and stitches.

After this, we each did a presentation which we had prepared before the event to a panel of four judges. We were given a choice from four possible titles, where I chose the title of ‘The role of young people in combating negative social stigmas.’ I chose to consider different types of social stigmas, then consider the possible causes and consequences, before evaluating how young people can tackle each type of social stigma. The final assessed task was an interview with the same four judges. Here, I was asked a series of questions about myself and my hopes for the future, as well as questions about St John, and what I would do if I was District Cadet of the Year.

The last event of the weekend was the awards ceremony, where everyone was presented with a certificate for attending the event, then the winners for each district were announced. However, despite there being four districts, no winner was selected for the South West district, so there were only three winners in total. All district cadets of the year will have the chance to attend the regional and national competitions in April.

My Role

Starting next year, I will officially begin the role of District Cadet of the Year. One of the main aspects of the role is being a representative and ambassador for cadets in the district, and I will also be working to resolve issues that other cadets identify. Another part of my role is representing St John at events. In addition to this, I plan to complete a leadership course and a peer education course next year. I also plan to continue doing events, for instance, this year I have helped at the Godiva Festival in Coventry, as well as events such as the Kenilworth half marathon and Kenilworth Fireworks.

How I got involved with St John

I originally got involved with St John as I am interested in studying medicine at university. Having seen St John at events, I thought I would really enjoy being part of it, therefore I looked on the St John website to see if I could join. As a result, I decided to join the Kenilworth unit as it is close to me, and I immediately loved it. I completed my first aid training very quickly as I was fortunate enough to join in time for the first aid course, therefore I could help at events soon after. In addition to this, I have had lots of incredible opportunities such as the Cadet of the year competition, as well as meeting some incredible people.